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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 05:24 GMT 06:24 UK
Thousands attend Lopes funeral
The casket was engraved with a rap from the song Waterfalls
Thousands of fans, members of the American music industry and relatives gathered on Thursday to say farewell to award winning R&B singer Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes who was killed in a Honduras car crash last week.

A capacity crowd of about 10,000 people packed the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia said to be the second biggest church in the United States.

Lisa, your exuberance will be missed, your passion will be missed

Antonio Reid, president of Arista Records
Among those attending were fellow TLC group members Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and singers Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Keith Sweat.

Ahead of the service the multiplatinum-selling group's hit song "Waterfalls" was played softly in the background while images of the star were displayed on two monitors.

Gospel choir

Lopes' body was then brought into the church in a white coffin with silver handles. The casket was engraved with a rap Lopes recited on Waterfalls, reading "dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you".

Gospel duo Mary Mary were among those who sang in the service, backed by a 150-member choir.

The artist was praised for her passion and generosity

Antonio Reid, president and CEO of Arista Records and one of TLC's producers, paid tribute to the star describing her as "one of the most creative people I ever met."

He acknowledged that Lopes had a mercurial side. However, he said "she was difficult for the right reasons. Her creativity never stopped".

"Lisa, your exuberance will be missed, your passion will be missed," he added.

Controversial private life

Lopes made headlines in 1994 when she was arrested on charges of arson for burning down the house of her ex-boyfriend, former Atlanta Falcons American footballer Andre Rison.

Mr Rison was among hundreds who attended a private memorial service in Decatur, another Atlanta suburb on Wednesday night.

The hearse carrying Lisa
The hearse was swamped by fans as it arrived

Her mother, Wanda Lopes Colemon, said her daughter's life was short but rewarding, and said she gave generously to her family.

"My daughter was truly blessed with the gift of giving," she said.

Thousands of fans turned out to pay tribute to Lopes, with the first of them arriving five hours before the service.

"You get a lot of artists out there that try to go with the flow, but Lisa was not a follower. She was a leader," said Shannelle Lewis, 28, who was the first to arrive at the church.

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